Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday: Judgment Day

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I judge. I judge strangers who make the wrong moral choices. I judge other mothers who make the wrong parenting decisions. I judge friends who don’t make the same choices I would make. I even judge whole groups of people – rich people, poor people and those who don’t think like me or who hold different political beliefs.

This week as we continued our study of the Book of Jonah, we heard God reiterate his command to Jonah that he should travel to the wicked city of Nineveh and proclaim God’s message. We also read that the Ninevites, upon hearing God’s message of repentance, did something quite unexpected. They listened and repented:

"The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth." (Jonah 3:5).

As I read how the Ninevites from the king to the commoner repented, I realized something important about judgment:

I realized that God is the one and only true judge.

It’s so easy to point the finger. We deem a a person or a particular group of people wrong or evil or sinners or unsalvageable on the basis of their morals or ethnicity, their lifestyle or their religion or their choices. But is it up to us to judge?

By all accounts, the Ninevites were a deeply corrupt people, described as wicked by God himself. Yet in the end, God decided they were redeemable. He showed them compassion and did not obliterate their city. God gave them a second chance.

Would I have deemed the Ninevites worthy of forgiveness, or would their sins have simply been too heinous? Would I have written them off as unsalvageable?

Jonah did. When he learned that God showed compassion to the Ninevites, Jonah was angry and disgusted, and he begged God to take away his life, claiming death would be preferable than sharing space on earth with such a people.

And God simply relied, “Have you any right to be angry?”

That’s the crux of the story for me: do I have any right to be angry? Do I have any right to judge? Do I have any right to condemn, when only one holds that authority?

It’s easy for me to think of the Ninevites in the abstract. But let’s get tough. Who are your present-day Ninevites? Who would rank as least-deserving of God’s compassion? I’ll be frightfully honest: for me, the present-day Ninevites are sexual predators – pedophiles and rapists and sexual traffickers. While it’s easy for me to swallow this lesson when it’s the ancient Ninevites we're talking about, it’s a lot harder when I think of present-day sexual predators basking in God’s compassion.

But God tells Jonah, and me, that I don’t get to make that decision. It’s not up to me. I don’t have any right to be angry, no matter who God decides to show compassion to, no matter how undeserving they are in my eyes.

“Have you any right to be angry?” God asks.

And no matter how I slice it and dice it, the answer is always no.

Who are your present-day Ninevites? Who do you judge as unworthy of compassion and forgiveness?


Now it's your turn. Tell us how God is speaking to you through the Bible this week!

Ostriches Look Funny  – (February 27, 2011 at 4:03 PM)  

HEY! We are studying Jonah too! How funny. These are questions to ask every day. Thanks for the reminder.

Lori  – (February 27, 2011 at 4:16 PM)  

I love the book of Jonah! Like my wise Mama always says, "God loves them as much as He loves me!" (whoever them is)That beautiful daffodil almost made me cry, I don't know why but I have very nostalgic feelings for daffodils, they make me want to cry and give my heart joy at the same time! How does that happen?? Lori

Flower Patch Farmgirl  – (February 27, 2011 at 7:48 PM)  

I judged a mom who brought her little girl to pre-school on Thursday with ratty hair and a grape popsicle. She sat her down, still in her coat, and said "She's still eating her breakfast". Then she just left her there.

I judged. I gossiped.

Then, I realized that I'm no better - not at all. Different, maybe. But not better.

Then, I repented. Then, I had some compassion for her.

When will I skip those first steps and jump right to the part that matters?

Thanks for your thoughts here.

Charity Singleton  – (February 27, 2011 at 7:57 PM)  

I even judge those who judge - ironic, isn't it?

There's much to learn from Jonah. Thank you for sharing what you are learning.

I hope to be back tomorrow to link up!

Laura  – (February 27, 2011 at 8:45 PM)  

Just peeking in to see what you heard today. :). Looks like I'll be using my sermon notes on any other day but monday! Well...hopefully, I'll use them every day but write about them later in the week. :) I took my notes like a good girl. I used to write poems about the Sunday sermons too. YOur community is helping me pay better attention, Michelle! :)

kendal  – (February 27, 2011 at 8:52 PM)  

yeah. jonah. i see so much of myself there, too.

amandatdodson  – (February 27, 2011 at 11:03 PM)  

It's hard not to judge isn't it? This was so true and convicting. Stopped by here late this evening to read about your Sunday's service. Hope to link up later this week!

Loni  – (February 27, 2011 at 11:15 PM)  

Ohhh this one hits doesn't it! It's so easy to judge.

Who are your present-day Ninevites?

Thank you for sharing something very thought provoking.

Chocolate Covered Daydreams  – (February 27, 2011 at 11:37 PM)  

That hit me square in the face. You're right...but it's so difficult not to judge...like Jonah and the Nineavites. Thanks for sharing.

Laura@OutnumberedMom  – (February 28, 2011 at 5:21 AM)  

My present-day Ninevites are up in the tree in my post today!

Thought-provoking, Michelle. Jonah is a treasure mine.

Terri Tiffany  – (February 28, 2011 at 6:20 AM)  

Something we have learned over the past few years is that we did judge and that now we didn't want people to judge us and our decisions as we fight to come back from this recession. It has opened our eyes how we were.

Cassandra Frear  – (February 28, 2011 at 8:10 AM)  

Excellent post!

Wish I could pour it through IV into a few brains.

Jen  – (February 28, 2011 at 9:08 AM)  

These questions just made my stomach hurt because as much as I don't want to judge, I still do. Often it's these split-second firings of my brain that spew the judgments. And then I get mad at myself because even though I didn't stay in those thoughts, even though I repented, it still shows that since these thoughts still came, the shape of my heart is so not yet complete.

Jodi  – (February 28, 2011 at 11:23 AM)  

Hard truth. thank you for this.

S. Etole  – (February 28, 2011 at 1:22 PM)  

funny how we prefer the dark inside the fish to being compassionate ...

JDaniel4's Mom  – (February 28, 2011 at 1:44 PM)  

I love the part of the story where Jonah get so upset about the plant dying and his being left in the sun. I always forget that it isn't all about me.

Sandra Heska King  – (February 28, 2011 at 7:32 PM)  

Me, too. And some of the same groups, especially the pedophiles and rapists. That hits close to home.

I also judge myself way too harshly, I think.

That daffodil is dripping grace.

Nancy  – (February 28, 2011 at 7:38 PM)  

Reading quietly today but, yes, this one hits close to home. The righteous indignation toward others comes easily; the ability and desire to have compassion as Christ does well, not so much. I've been realizing lately how little I trust/believe that God truly is in the business of transforming lives--pedophiles, Ninevites, even my own. So thankful for many I've met in blog world who bear witness to this miraculous transforming grace.

Charity Singleton  – (February 28, 2011 at 8:01 PM)  

I'm late, but I'm here! I finally linked up. My post is more like -- see it Sunday, Use it on Monday -- but I think it is within keeping the spirit of your community.


Lyla Lindquist  – (February 28, 2011 at 10:19 PM)  

Ah, no surprise, I'm even later! And worse, perhaps, I'm cheating with a repost... Oh, well...

You know, Jonah is such a perfect example of most of us, don't you think? He wants all the credit for doing the cool thing, getting down there and getting the word out. But he still wanted God to wipe 'em out. Preaching to those beyond redemption -- does it get more noble than that? I guess Jonah didn't think so.

And I guess I miss the boat so often myself, thinking I'm just so much more put together. Right.

Jennifer  – (March 1, 2011 at 6:39 AM)  

It's hard to view my sins as the same as a sexual predator. I like to rack and stack, but to God, all sin deserves death.

But even among the worst sinners, I think I judge Christians harder, especially judgmental, legalistic, self-righteous Christians. I, clearly, have a lot to learn!

Ashley Sisk  – (March 1, 2011 at 8:40 AM)  

What a great reminder and I think it goes beyond the predators and such...I am struggling with loving people and not judging. It's one of those things that turns me off about some people. In particular, I'm finding that if I can show the love and forgiveness that God has to offer, that I may be able to share my relationship with those who don't know him. Great words of wisdom!

Amy Sullivan  – (March 1, 2011 at 5:51 PM)  

Late to the party! Can't wait to bounce around.

Laura  – (March 1, 2011 at 8:41 PM)  

Here I am! Bringing my notes to the classroom...

deb colarossi  – (March 2, 2011 at 11:05 AM)  

well, you are in my head as always.
which is good. I need to get out of it more. :)

debbie bailey  – (March 5, 2011 at 6:18 PM)  

I'm so very glad that the Ninevites repented, because my oldest son just married an Assyrian woman who's Eastern Orthodox. She said her people trace their christianity back to the Ninevites when they repented. So we now have this lovely woman in our family because Jonah preached to them and God forgave them.

debbie bailey  – (April 27, 2011 at 10:50 AM)  

I'm so very glad that the Ninevites repented, because my oldest son just married an Assyrian woman who's Eastern Orthodox. She said her people trace their christianity back to the Ninevites when they repented. So we now have this lovely woman in our family because Jonah preached to them and God forgave them.

Terri Tiffany  – (April 27, 2011 at 10:50 AM)  

Something we have learned over the past few years is that we did judge and that now we didn't want people to judge us and our decisions as we fight to come back from this recession. It has opened our eyes how we were.

Chocolate Covered Daydreams  – (April 27, 2011 at 10:50 AM)  

That hit me square in the face. You're right...but it's so difficult not to judge...like Jonah and the Nineavites. Thanks for sharing.

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